Metal Toxicity

Drug Reaction to Calcium EDTA

A friend of mine had a Pionus that was on treatment for zinc die in her hands a few mornings ago.

CaEDTA was used for treatment, in addition to several other things prescribed from the vet. The prescribed treatment was RIGHT, but some birds (rare) can have reactions to the medication. The first alert to a reaction is the bird will become weak and staggering. I advised her to let Sam know immediately, but somehow there was a ‘misunderstanding’ between client and vet on the phone and the bird was not hospitalized.

I HAVE had reactions from CaEDTA. A more serious reaction is seizures If something isn’t done the bird WILL die.

If you ever have to treat for zinc…please be AWARE that you can get reactions. If the bird becomes weak and staggers…STOP….and get to the vet for fluid therapy and an alternate treatment.

In my case (Stinker, last fall) I had no time to get to a vet because the cockatiel went into seizures. The ONLY thing that can bring them out of this is Epinephrine (Stop Shock) Then SubQ’ing Lactated Ringers. Then I force (tube) fed BCC 3X aday, a mixture of Aloe Detox (as the water), Exact handfeeding formula, Charcoal-Kaolin, Psyllium, and Lactulose. After 3 days I reduced the ‘treatment to 2X a day, and after 10 days to 1X a day. Shots of B complex were given weekly.

I’m sitting here feeling very guilty, because if it was a cockatiel I would have had her bring it here…but it was a Pionus…so I didn’t insist. I tried to encourage the Aloe Detox, and charcoal…. or hospitalizing. I phoned the vet’s office to let them know she was bringing in the body and to PLEASE give her a hug.

I just wish people would be warned that with this particular drug there can possibly be side effects and or death.

Susanne

Metal Toxicity Since often times the test for metal toxicity comes back with a false positive, it won’t hurt to treat the bird anyway. I have heard of several cases of birds improving just from this treatment. Also apple pectin, sodium alginate, and psyllium, along with peanut butter helps flush the system. Here is a site for a natural metal detox that sounds pretty good, although I am not familiar with this particular product.

http://www.nutrimed.com/EXTOX.HTM

FYI, vets use calcium EDTA, or calcium versonate, or cuprimine. I believe cuprimine can be purchased over the counter for fish. I am definitely not recommending that anyone should do this, without first consulting with their vet.

Linda

Peanut Butter is used to help pass the particles in birds. However Chit Chat was allergic to peanut butter. She would throw up big time so that was not an option. She was perfectly healthy. It was all the zinc that did this. When Zinc is ingested it throws the whole body out of wack and makes bacteria run rampant. It affects every aspect of a birds body. I have her blood count also. Here it is: SGOT should be 20-350 and is 4240 Uric Acid …Should be 2-10 and is 130.4 CPK enzyme 50-400 and is 23000 Protein 3-5.5 and is 2 Calcium 7.6-12 and is 5 Sodium 140-160 and is 132 Potassium 3.0-4.5 and is 2

We were even trying to get a hold of this special magnet to try and pull the pieces out of her gizzard. Dr Moore washed the ones out of her crop. But when her digestive system shut down, there was no hope and I knew it.

Ang

From Susanne: When my cockatiel Stinker first had the allergic reactions to the CaEDTA, and then he also stopped digesting because of metal, the ONLY way to save him was subcutaneous fluids of Lactated Ringers. It took 30 hours before he could finally pass droppings again!! Use of fluid therapy gives a no hope bird a 50% chance.

Susanne

From: gloria scholbe

In her book Homeopathic Treatment for Birds, Beryl Chapman lists two homeopathic treatments for heavy metal poisoning in birds. One is for lead poisoning the other is for mercury poisoning. I didn’t find any for zinc, but I wonder if anyone knows if the homeopathic treatments for the lead or mercury could be used for zinc poisoning or if there is a homeopathic specific for zinc?

The homeopathic might not get rid of the metal particles, but it should be able to cure the toxicity as it develops. Homeopathic treatment would have to be continued until the metal particles were cleared.

Another approach would be to use blood purifiers to clear the toxins out of the blood and liver. Again, he metal particles still remaining would have to be eliminated, but the immediate reaction to metal poisoning might be alleviated. At least the toxins wouldn’t be able to build up to lethal levels.

Either treatment, homeopathic or herbal would have to be continued until after the metal was eliminated from the body. A few final treatment course to purify the blood and other organs would be necessary once the metal was gone.

Along with that, As Susanne mentioned, rehydration therapy would be administered to compensate for electrolyte and fluid loss through vomiting and diarrhea. (The body’s efforts to rid itself of the toxins.)

gloria

Diarrhea is also another means of ridding the body of toxins, and if zinc/metal is suspected don’t treat (kaopectate, etc.) it…let it run it’s course. I learned this from the Ritchie book. In the interim, still give fluid therapy.

I’ve found that fluid therapy is vital…whether it is minimal loss or to the extent of digestive shutdown. Anemia is another serious threat. Weekly Vit. B complex suppliments/shots will be very beneficial. Vit. A, C and E help.

I’ve personally had success with mixtures of Charcoal-Kaolin, pysllium, Lactulose in handfeeding formula and crop feeding this mixture 2 times a day. At various times I would also use Prozyme, nutri-cal, yogurt, and citric acids…dependant on how the bird was responding and the droppings. I have also saved 1 cockatiel that had Sarco with this mixture. My only experience is with cockatiels.

Susanne

From: “Marnie”

I’ve seen far to many distraught bird owners on the Bird Lists, many very experienced who never believed that if they took precautions such as washing with vinegar weekly, that their bird would succumb to Zinc poisoning. Personally I don’t feel that economics should not play a part in whether it is safe to gamble on whether you slowly poison your birds or not… we know the dangers of Zinc and Lead; why take the chance? -Cheers! Marnie

Okuda T; Mori K; Shiota M; Ida K  Yakugaku Zasshi 1982 Aug;102(8):735-42

The precipitate formation in the solution of geraniin  (I), punicalin  (II), tannic acid  (III), or (-)-epigallocatechin gallate  (IV) mixed with that of cadmium, chromium, copper, iron, mercury, manganese, lead or zinc ions at pH 5.4, was investigated. The amount of precipitate decreased with an increase in concentration of I or III but precipitate increased with an elevation of tannin concentration. The precipitates formed were solubilized upon further increase of tannin concentration and when the amount of heavy metal in the supernatant liquor together with the ratio of tannin to heavy metal in the precipitate were increased. Extensive reduction of chromium, ferric, cuprous ions and complex formation occurred in the presence of tannins such as I, II, III and IV. These results indicated that the toxicity of metal ions could be reduced in the presence of tannins and polyphenols.  *************

Zinc toxicity in birds results in gastroenteritis, necrotizing ventriculitis, as well as damage to the pancreas, kidneys and the liver. Treatment consists of supportive care, chelation therapy and endoscopic or surgical removal of the foreign body. Small foreign bodies may pass with the addition of laxatives to the diet.

Zinc is extremely toxic to birds. Sources include galvanized cage wire, clips or staples, bird toy snaps, zippers, keys, nails, plumbing nuts, nuts on animal transport cages, hardware cloth, padlocks, and some antirust paints, shampoos and skin preparations.

Padlocks are frequently used on bird cages. Other types of locking devices should be considered on cages of large birds who may attempt to chew on the padlock. Chrome-plated cages should be avoided for larger birds.

Reference: Romagnano A, Grinden, CB, Degernes, Mautino M. Treatment of a Hyacinth Macaw with Zinc Toxicity. J Avian Medicine and Surgery. 1995;9:185-189. *******

Gutnisky A, Rizzo N, Castro ME, Garbossa G  Centro de Estudios Farmacologicos y Botanicos, Buenos Aires, Argentina.  Acta Physiol Pharmacol Ther Latinoam 1992;42(3):139-4

The polyphenols are part of the composition of many foods, it is known the inhibitory effect of tea and coffee through the tannins on iron intestinal absorption; the “yerba mate” (Ilex Paraguarensis) is a beverage widely used in South America, that has a high content of a polyphenol named chlorogenic acid. The present work shows the effect of this substance in nonhem iron absorption. An intestinal loop, was made in rats, to form a closed cavity in a small section of intestine tieing it from the pilorous to a distance of six cm. In this closed cavity a solution of 59Fe was injected with different doses of chlorogenic acid; it was living 20, 40 and 120 minutes into the loop, and after this different times, the blood, spleen, liver, femur and intestine were removed to measure the 59Fe uptake to be compared with the control group. The results gave an intense inhibitory effect on the intestinal iron absorption with doses of 0.58 and 1.7 mM per rat of chlorogenic acid at the different times studied. ******

Siegenberg D, Baynes RD, Bothwell TH, Macfarlane BJ, Lamparelli RD, Car NG, MacPhail P, Schmidt U, Tal A, Mayet F  Department of Medicine, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. Am J Clin Nutr 1991 Feb;53(2):537-41

The effects of maize-bran phytate and of a polyphenol (tannic acid) on iron absorptionfrom a white-bread meal were tested in 199 subjects. The phytate content was varied byadding different concentrations of phytate-free and ordinary maize bran. Iron absorptiondecreased progressively when maize bran containing increasing amounts of phytatephosphorous (phytate P) (from 10 to 58 mg) was given. The inhibitory effect wasovercome by 30 mg ascorbic acid. The inhibitory effects of tannic acid (from 12 to 55 mg)were also dose dependent. Studies suggested that greater than or equal to 50 mg ascorbicacid would be required to overcome the inhibitory effects on iron absorption of any mealcontaining greater than 100 mg tannic acid. Our findings indicate that it may be possible topredict the bioavailability of iron in a diet if due account is taken of the relative content inthe diet of the major promoters and inhibitors of iron absorption. *****

By Matthew W. Bond, DVM Zinc Toxicity I have been a parrot breeder for about five years, which has given me enough time to evaluate how I (and other breeders) keep my stock. My first concern is using galvanized wire for cages. Many of my parrots walk the wire of their cages using their beaks as they move. Because most parrots are very oral, the ingestion of this metal could be a problem. I have checked with my local veterinarian, and he could not think of any known problems with this metal as a toxin. I am seeking your advice.

For many years, I, too, have pondered over the effects of zinc in a parrot’s environment. Many breeders keep their birds in galvanized wire cages (including my collection). Galvanized metal is commonly used in dishes and as part of toys. An excellent paper was presented at the 1997 Association of Avian Veterinarians Conference by Fern Van Sant, DVM called “Zinc and Clinical Disease in Parrots.” (Session #900)

Besides the ones already listed, other sources of zinc include C clamps or hog rings that are used to hold the cage together. Birds are often fed a diet rich in acidic foods (such as citrus). The acidic nature of the fruit reacts with the zinc actually leaching it into the food, creating a food source high in zinc. Birds are notorious for taking food from the dishes, dropping the food on the cage floor and eating it later. The cage floor is often galvanized wire, and the same reaction occurs. If galvanized water bowls are used, the metal may also leach into the water source.

Let us not forget how many parrots turn chewing into a fine art, which is a direct way to ingest this metal. What happens to the zinc after ingestion? This is actually a key question. It appears that the longer the zinc stays in the body by the increased time for absorption from the GI tract into the body, the more chance of creating problems. Therefore, if the gastrointestinal transit time is slow, there will be more problems. This simply refers to the time from eating to the time that it passes out of the body.

Slow transit time can be related to a number of things. Diets high in fat take longer to digest and are therefore slower in transit time. High fiber increases the transit time while low amounts slow the process. So those diets high in seed and low in vegetables and fruit can be a problem. Many soft toys lead to the ingestion of threads that pass through the digestive system slower, and small pieces of plastic will create the same problem.

What are the signs of zinc toxicity? Zinc in high levels can lead to rapid death, though the slow, chronic exposure can be more subtle. The major symptom would be slowing down of the GI motility, which, as previously discussed, can compound the problem. However, this is not a clear-cut symptom for zinc but a common problem in the sick bird! It is not unusual to find chewing or plucking of feathers, and pasty vents are common in smaller birds. Neurologic signs may be present, such as seizures and ataxia (poor coordination). Following death, the necropsy may be quite unremarkable, though microscopic examination of the tissues by a pathologist will show degeneration of the liver, kidneys and pancreas.

How do we screen healthy birds for this potential problem? While radiographs have been used to detect metal quite commonly, not all problematic birds will show metal particles. A small blood sample (greater than 50 microliters of serum or plasma) can be taken, and your veterinarian can submit it to the Louisiana Medical Diagnostic Lab at Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine, 1909 S. Stadium Rd., Baton Rouge, LA 70803; (504) 346-3193. Breeders may want to randomly check birds in their collections during the yearly exams to help assess the potential problem in their collection.

There is treatment, and the recovery is quite dramatic. It involves chelation therapy and flushing the GI tract, both of which can be initiated by a veterinarian and continued by the aviculturalist.

Matthew W. Bond, DVM, received a doctorate in veterinary medicine from Tufts University in 1986, and holds degrees in medical technology, biology and chemistry. He has extensive experience in avian medicine, especially pediatrics. Heavy Metal (Lead & Zinc) Poisoning: Are Your Birds At Risk? by Robin Roscoe, DVM, Dipl.ABVP (Avian)

Birds love to chew and explore with their beaks. Are there accidents waiting to happen in your home? Objects that, if chewed & swallowed, may threaten the life of your feathered friend? A toxin (poison) can make your bird very ill very quickly, so it helps to know how to recognize the symptoms or, better yet, avoid the possibility altogether.

Sources Lead may be present in many familiar objects such as the weights used in curtains, penguin bird toys, wheel balances, and for fishing and diving. Shiny objects such as costume jewellery, stained glass (lead seam), bells with clappers, and foil from some champagne and wine bottles are also potential sources. If your bird is into home renovations, he may be exposed by chewing on plaster, older lead-based paints, linoleum, and PVC blinds. Other possible household sources are: batteries, hardware cloth, solder, glazed ceramics, galvanized wire, and seeds intended for planting.

Zinc may be present in various items such as galvanized wire & clips, and the powder coating applied to some lawn furniture and some bird cages. Galvanized wire has been used for many years for aviary cages. Exposure to zinc (& lead) will vary with the quality of wire used, the preparation of the wire (brushing off zinc “tags” on the wire and curing the wire outdoors and/or with a vinegar solution), and the amount a bird chews on the wire. Whether the wire is galvanized before or after welding makes a difference as well. American pennies minted after 1982 contain zinc. Canadian coins do not. Toys may be a source of zinc depending on the types of chains and hardware used.

Clinical Signs Toxicities may be acute (a sudden exposure to a large quantity), or chronic (a long-term low-level exposure). As acute toxicities are the most life-threatening, we will discuss these first and in the most detail.

Symptoms are usually sudden in onset, and include depresson, weakness, loss of appetite, polyuria (excess liquid in the droppings) and diarrhea. So far this sounds like the stereotypical sick bird. Two important clues are the sudden change from an active & vocal bird to a fluffed-up & quiet one, and a history of chewing on unusual items. Having said this, there are times when we never do find the source, but it will help your avian veterinarian come to a faster diagnosis if you tell him or her that your bird was seen recently chewing on your favourite stained-glass tiffany lamp or other suspicious object.

There are other clinical signs that will also cue your avian vet to consider a possible poisoning. These are: sudden vomiting (especially in adult parrots), loss of balance, a head tilt, circling, blindness, head tremors, and convulsions. Some parrots may also pass red-tinged droppings.

When a bird swallows particles of lead or zinc, they travel to the stomach where the muscular portion (the ventriculus) starts to break them down. When the heavy metal is absorbed into the bloodstream the bird begins to feel ill. Once absorbed, the nervous system, the gastrointestinal system, the kidneys, and blood-producing organs are affected. This is reflected in the clinical signs already mentioned.

Diagnosis Several tests may be done to aid diagnosis. Metals show up well on X-rays, but not all metals contain lead or zinc. A complete blood count may also show an increased white blood cell count and/or a mild to severe anemia (low red blood cell count), but this again is not specific. Blood lead and zinc levels may be measured. This is the most definitive test. Its only drawback is the relatively large amount of blood required. For smaller birds, or very anemic birds, this test may not be an option.

As you can see, a diagnosis is often based on several factors including history, clinical signs, and test results.

Treatment The first goal of treatment is to relieve the signs of illness. This is best done by chelating (binding) the toxin in the bloodstream using injectable drugs.The second goal is to prevent absorption of the toxin. This may be done by using various binding agents given by mouth. The third goal is to remove the particles. If large, they may be surgically removed using an endoscope. If small, they can be “encouraged” to leave the stomach and pass through the intestines more quickly using lubricants. The length of treatment will vary depending on the number and size of particles.

Chronic Lead or Zinc Poisoning In cases of chronic poisoning there may not be metal visible on X-rays. These birds may show vague signs of illness such as weight loss, lethargy, and depression. This is when the specific blood test for lead or zinc is critical in making the diagnosis.

Recent studies have linked some cases of feather picking to chronic low-level zinc toxicity. These birds may not appear ill in the classical sense (fluffed-up & lethargic). Interestingly enough one of the sources has turned out to be the powder coating used on some cages. Zinc is sometimes added to the paint to prevent it from chipping. Birds may end up swallowing small pieces, or absorbing small quantities as they grasp the bars of their cages with their beaks & tongues. A blood test will determine if the bird has elevated zinc levels. Cage paint and other toys may be tested for zinc content.

Most manufacturers are now aware of this situation and have corrected it. The problem lies in the many cages that are in peoples’ homes that were produced before the danger was recognized (1996). If your bird is a feather picker then you may want to consider having its zinc level checked. (Remember there are many causes of feather picking and this is only one of them). If your bird is not a picker, but you are concerned about the possibility of zinc in the powder coating, then you may want to contact the manufacturer or have a sample of the paint analysed. Metal parts of toys may also be analysed.

Enjoy your birds and allow them as much supervised freedom as you can. Give them a wide variety of safe objects to chew on. I hope that I’ve made you aware of some of the more subtle hazards. As is so often the case, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.

ASK THE VET (Zinc Toxicity)

by Linda Pesek, DVM Westbury Animal Hospital 319 Union Avenue Westbury, NY 516-333-1123

This article first appeared in SQUAWK, the newsletter of the Big Apple Bird Association, and appears here with permission.

In my last column, I wrote about lead poisoning. In this column I would like to talk about a second type of heavy metal toxicity — zinc. Birds can be exposed to zinc if they are housed in flights or cages made of galvanized wire, since zinc, and sometimes lead, is often a component of this wire and the clips used to construct these flights. Zinc is also a component of galvanized food dishes, certain game pieces, and pennies minted after 1982. In addition, the white rust that can form over zinc is also toxic to birds.

The signs of zinc toxicity may be variable. Birds exposed to a large amount of zinc may display ataxia (loss of balance), green diarrhea, and may die suddenly. Chronic exposure may be expressed as depression, intermittent lethargy, neurologic signs such as seizures and ataxia, and increased thirst and urination. Death may occur as a result of anemia and damage to internal organs.

Just like the diagnosis of lead toxicity, diagnosis of zinc toxicity can be very difficult. Radiographs may demonstrate metallic densities in the gastrointestinal tract. Blood levels for zinc may be run in a laboratory.

Radiographic and clinical signs are the same for zinc and lead toxicities; thus one can’t be differentiated from the other. Fortunately, treatment is the same for both.

1. Cathartics may aid in the passage of small particles. 2. A magnetized instrument may be employed to remove galvanized wire pieces from the digestive tract. 3. Chelating agents may also be used, either given orally or by injection. 4. Surgery or endoscopic removal may be necessary to remove zinc particles that are visible radiographically.

As with lead, the best way to avoid zinc toxicity is by preventing your bird’s exposure to it.

Lead Poisoning

Symptoms of lead poisoning can range from lethargy and depression, inability to perch (unexplained falls from perches) to seizures and death.

The initial treatment will depend on whether it is an acute case of lead poisoning (usually after ingestion of a lead-containing foreign body) or chronic lead poisoning (repeated small exposures – often from eating food or drinking water from lead-soldered dishes.)

Gastrointestinal decontamination using an adsorbent such as activated charcoal and a cathartic such as lactulose is instituted for acute lead poisoning but is usually of little value in chronic lead toxicity. An x-ray should be done to confirm the presence of metallic particles. Repeat s-rays should be performed to ensure that the metallic particles have been eliminated from the gastrointestinal tract.

Specific antidotes for lead poisoning should be administered for both acute and chronic lead poisoning. These are called chelating agents which bind circulating lead in the blood. These drugs include Calcium EDTA (given by injection), d-penicillamine (given orally) and more recently, Succimer (DSMA), also given orally.

Because these chelating agents, possibly with the exception of Succimer, only bind circulating lead in the blood, repeat courses may be required because lead is released slowly from soft tissues such as the brain back into the systemic circulation.

The testing kits for lead are called Lead Check Kits and are relatively inexpensive. In Canada, a kit contianing 2 test vials currently retails at $9.40 but is probably cheaper in the U.S.

Gillian Willis willis@dpic.bc.ca

ASK THE VET (Lead Intoxication)

by Linda Pesek, DVM Westbury Animal Hospital 319 Union Avenue Westbury, NY 516-333-1123

This article first appeared in SQUAWK, the newsletter of the Big Apple Bird Association, and appears here with permission.

Lead intoxication is a fairly common problem in pet birds. Lead may be present in many places in the home, and birds allowed out of their cages may be accidentally exposed. Common sources of lead include solder, batteries, galvanized wire, hardware cloth, bells with lead clappers, linoleum, paints (lead-based, and those with leaded drying agents) stained glass, curtain weights, fishing and diving accessories, certain ceramic pieces, foil covering on wine bottles, leaded gasoline fumes, and penguin bird toys.

Lead poisoning may occur as an acute or a chronic problem. Clinical signs of lead intoxication in psittacine birds may include lethargy, depression, anorexia, regurgitation, diarrhea, loss of balance, blindness, head tremors, convulsions and death. Hemoglobinuria (bloody urine) may occur in Amazon and African Grey parrots. Some birds may develop anemia.

Diagnosis of lead poisoning can be difficult. The radiographic presence of metallic densities in the gastrointestinal tract of birds with clinical signs of metal intoxication is supportive of the possibility of lead poisoning. Not all metal densities are lead, and the absence of metal densities in the presence of clinical signs does not rule out lead intoxication.

Blood lead levels may be determined by laboratory. If a strong suspicion of lead intoxication exists, therapy is often begun while awaiting laboratory results. Treatment for lead intoxication involves:

a) removal (if possible) of lead particles by means of endoscopy or surgery. b) chelation therapy (both oral and IV) to remove lead circulating in the blood stream. c) intravenous fluids and dextrose d) iron dextran, antibiotics, tube feeding (if necessary) e) cathartics (mineral oil or peanut butter) to aid in the passage of small particles out of the G.I. tract).

The prognosis for lead intoxication is guarded if the bird has severe neurological signs or if chronic exposure has occurred. Valium may be necessary to control seizures if they occur.

The best way to deal with lead poisoning is to prevent it. Remove possible sources of lead in the environment. If accidental exposure has occurred, seek veterinary assistance as soon as possible.

Lead Poisoning in Keys provided by Susanne Russo Today on A3 of the L.A. Times was an article about the danger of lead poisoning from brass keys. Attorney Gen. Bill Lockyer sued 13 key and lock companies for not warning consumers. He said, “It turns out there are very significant exposures that can be dangerous, particularly to small children, and you know … I see small kids with keys in their mouths at the grocery store all the time.” Keys — particularly brass ones — are about 2% lead. Laboratory tests with three dozen keys found that if people handledtheir keys twice a day, the amount of lead that rubbed off on their fingers was an average of 19 times the state’s “no-risk” level. Most color keys – such as car keys – contain only trace amounts of lead.

Companies cited in the suit include Kwikset Corp., Schlage Lock Co. and Master Lock Co.

I am also treating my goffin for zinc poisoning. my vet recommended ALPHA LIPOIC ACID for treatment. you can find it at gnc or other vitamin stores. if you want hee is the name of my vet and you could have your vet call mine and talk about treatment. my vet runs anderson lakes animal hospital and his name is rodney toogood. the number is 612-942-5506. he may be able to help you out in your dilemma. my goffin does not have metal pieces in her, but has elevated zinc levels. the price on the alpha lipoic acid is $30 for 60- 100mg softgels. i am having to slice the lid off of them and suck the liquid into a .5 cc pipette. my goffin gets 1 drop each day and we recheck her levels in 3 weeks.

the results of treating with alpha lipoic are great according to my vet. i guess that there are not as many side- effects to treating with alpha lipoic as well. he says that the risk of doing damage to kidneys and liver are drastically reduced. hope this will help you in your search and you are able to make use of this information. Aimee

Contaminated Collection Tube

This discussion of zinc tests made me recall a situation that only some vets seem to know about — the vials used to hold the blood samples for zinc tests must be chosen carefully. *Green lids* contain zinc and may actually contaminate the sample and you’ll be told that your bird has outrageously high zinc levels and must be treated….and retested…and treated…

This happened to Robbie Sprechman in NJ (he’s a super guy and I don’t think he’ll mind my using his name) — some of you may know him from macaw and cockatoo lists. His birds were repeatedly treated for zinc unnecessarily. A lab in Louisiana finally helped him clear up the mystery. I sent Robbie’s post to my vet, who replied:

Thanks for the heads up. I have been using microtainer lithium heparin tubes for blood Zn levels for quite some time and have been aware of the potential for Zn contamination if samples are handled or submitted incorrectly. This has been a hot topic in the veterinary community for a couple of years

I felt relieved about this until I looked up “microtainer lithium heparin tubes” and found that they’re the ones with green lids! So apparently there are some handling guidelines that must be observed to avoid zinc contamination.

So, then, what can we do? I guess, if any of you are having your birds tested for zinc and your vet is unaware of the green-lidded vial problem, let me know and I’ll put your vet in touch with my vet so they can discuss it. Or, contact Robbie, who may have the details at hand.

Sue vG

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